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Maria Nilce dos Santos Magalhães


July 15, 1989

Case: Maria Nilce dos Santos Magalhães


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Case File:



Maria Nilce dos Santos Magalhães (June 23, 1941 – July 5, 1989) Date of murder: July 5, 1989 Place and circumstances of murder: Maria Nilce arrived at the Body and Movement Academy health club on Aleixo Neto Street in the Playa del Canto neighborhood of Vitória, capital of Espírito Santo state, around 7:00 a.m. accompanied by her daughter Milla dos Santos Magalhães. Normally, both walked to the fitness center, located just 400 yards from their home, but on the day of the murder they decided to drive there because Milla was going on afterwards to the university where she was studying. When Maria Nilce got out of the car, which Milla was driving, a man pointed a gun to the back of her head. He pulled the trigger, but the weapon did not fire. Milla screamed and her mother ran off, managing to get on a bus that was at a stop across from the health club. One of the assailants chased her, got on the bus and shot at her. Three of the four shots hit her and she was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. Probable cause: Criticisms and threats in the gossip column she wrote in the newspaper Jornal da Cidade, in which she may have mentioned the names of people involved in drug trafficking. Suspects: The Federal Police identified as the mastermind of the murder José Alayr Andreatta, who had hired Romualdo Eustáquio da Luza Faría, who in turn was said to have hired the hitmen and intermediaries. Chronology July 5, 1989 – Maria Nilce is murdered outside the Body and Movement Academy health club in Vitória, Espírito Santo state, between 6:45 and 7:00 a.m. July 5 to September 15, 1989 – Civil Police detective Josino Bragança, chief of the Homicide Division of the Espírito Santo State Public Safety Department, heads the investigation. Civil Police detective Cláudio Guerra is assigned to assist in the investigation. August 1989 – Detective Guerra leaves the investigation. August 1989 – State Attorney Gilberto Fabiano Toscano de Mattos questions the impartiality of the investigation, noting that detective Bragança was himself under investigation in connection with a homicide in Serra township and that detective Guerra had taken statements from suspects at the victim’s apartment without the required presence of a district attorney. He says the investigation is full of irregularities and he suggests it be transferred to the Federal Police. District Attorney Marly Saramago Hermann cites personal reasons for withdrawing from the case. September 1989 – Justice Minister José Saulo Pereira Ramos puts detective Romeu Tuma, director general of the Federal Police Department in charge of liaising with the Espírito Santo Attorney General’s Office and requests the cooperation of Federal Police to investigate the Maria Nilce case and possible links with organized crime, drug trafficking and car theft. The document signed by the minister urges a full-out investigation. Federal detective Pedro Luiz Berwanger takes on the case and state attorney Gilberto Toscano is assigned to assist in the inquiries. November 1989 – On the basis of the Federal Police investigation, Toscano writes a report in which he says that the person masterminding the murder was José Alayr Andreatta, who was believed to have hired a friend of his, Romualdo Eustáquio da Luz Faría, a.k.a. The Japanese, to kill Maria Nilce. The report says that Eustáquio hired José Sasso to do the job and the latter in turn asked police officer César Narcizo da Silva to carry out the murder. According to the police, it was Sasso who fired the fatal shots. Da Silva was the one assigned to do the shooting, but his gun misfired. Police officer Charles Roberto Lisboa was said to have provided the vehicles and the weapon for the murder. The police report on the investigation was confused concerning the hitmen’s getaway. Andreatta is also accused of using the name of Judge Geraldo Correia Lima to hire Marcos Egydio Costa as the pilot of the aircraft to be used to fly the alleged murderers out of state. The police say they have in evidence a confession by José Sasso, taped by military police officer Paulo Jorge dos Santos Ferreira at a military stockade where he is being held in custody. The state attorney sent his report directly to the Superior Court, bypassing lower Judge Joseph Haddad Sobrinho, who had been appointed to handle the investigatory phase of the case – a procedure regarded as out of order but used to strengthen the defense of the accused. November 1989 – A court-ordered inquiry is begun into press reports linking Judge Correia Lima with the Maria Nilce murder. Correia Lima in defense alleges that the Federal Police got involved in all of this in reprisal for a warrant he had issued while on the bench in 1982-83 for the arrest of a number of federal police officers in connection with the death of a worker. He also claimed that state attorney Toscano was also against him because he had come to the defense of Toscano’s wife after she accused her husband of domestic violence. It is concluded that there is no evidence to prove that Correia Lima took part in Maria Nilce’s death. Witnesses – lawyers, two defendants and suspects – accused Toscano of seeking to incriminate Correia Lima. December 1989 – Suspects in the murder are freed from custody. June 1990 – Superior Court judges decide not to indict Correia Lima and that the investigation should continue. November 1990 – Djalma, Maria Nilce’s husband, states that he does not agree with the investigation’s findings and calls for the inquiries to continue. He says that Andreatta was merely an intermediary in the crime. December 2000 – The Chamber of Deputies CPI’s final report speaks of findings by the Federal Police in the Maria Nilce case, pointing to those behind the murder, those who actually carried it out and others involved. The CPI declares this to be an example of impunity.



Personal File:



Place of birth: Timbuí, Fundão municipality, Espírito Santo state Age at death: 48 Marital status: Married since 1961 to Djalma Juarez Magalhães Children: (names, ages at death of mother): Fernanda dos Santos Magalhães de Souza, 27; Milla dos Santos Magalhães, 24; Djalma Juarez Magalhães Filho (Juca), 23; Paloma dos Santos Magalhães, 21, and Melissa Magalhães, 12. Education: High school graduate Profession/title: Gossip columnist and editor of Jornal da Cidade Background in journalism: Worked as a gossip columnist at the Vitória newspaper A Tribuna Leisure activities/hobbies: Travel, organizing parties, writing books about her journeys. She wrote five books. Other activities or roles: Promoted fashion shows and philanthropic activities. Sold advertising. Has an office supplies store and an art gallery that she ran with her daughter Milla. Passionate about Peru, had a Peruvian arts and crafts store. Drugs, coffee and weapons* It is said that Espírito Santo may well be on the cocaine traffic route, the drug being able to be hidden in bags of coffee exported to the United States and European countries. Drug-sniffing dogs used at foreign ports are unable to detect the scent of the cocaine because the smell of the coffee overpowers it. When it reaches its destination, the cocaine is removed from the previously-marked freight and sold at a high price. Another comment is that arms smuggling has increased in Espírito Santo and organized crime figures military equipment that not even the Brazilian Army possesses. How the arms reach them is a mystery, but they might come in containers that a blind eye is turned to due to corruption.


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